Dr. Leon Haley Jr., the CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and dean of UF College of Medicine - Jacksonville, died in an accident Saturday in South Florida.
Haley, 56, was operating a personal watercraft and was ejected from it, Carol Lyn Parrish, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission South Region public information director, wrote in an email. He was found wearing a life jacket and was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach, where he was pronounced dead, she wrote. FWC is currently investigating the incident.
“All of the members of the FWC want to express our sincere sympathies to Dr. Haley’s family, friends and his colleagues at the University of Florida Health Jacksonville,” Parrish wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of them.”
Haley served as the CEO of UF Health Jacksonville starting in 2018, when he became the first Black person to hold the position.
He received his undergraduate degree from Brown University before going on to earn his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh, Daniel Leveton, the media relations manager at UF Health Jacksonville, wrote in an email.
At the University of Michigan, Haley studied to earn his master of health services administration. He became the dean of the UF College of Medicine - Jacksonville in 2017, Leveton wrote.
Haley was instrumental in the fight against COVID-19 and was believed to be the first person in Florida to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, according to Action News Jax.
Haley’s death is a tremendous loss for his family, friends, people he led at UF, communities in North Florida and across the country, Dr. David R. Nelson, the president of UF Health and senior vice president for health affairs, wrote in an email statement. While his leadership and friendship will be missed, UF Health will continue his vision, he wrote.
"Dr. Haley was such an incredible leader and colleague to all of us at UF Health, but he was also a good friend to so many, an amazing advocate for equality in health care, and most importantly a man of integrity who always wanted to do the right thing,” Nelson wrote.
Several people took to social media to pay tribute to Haley. UF President Kent Fuchs was among them, writing on Twitter Haley was a leader others aspire to be.
Student Body President Cooper Brown and Treasurer Giovanna Mompremier are authoring a resolution to honor Haley’s life, according to an email.
Contact Juliana Ferrie at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliana_f616.
Juliana Ferrie is a second-year UF journalism student. She is excited to be working for The Alligator as the Santa Fe Beat reporter. In her free time, you can find her reading or listening to music.